Genre: Puzzle, Adventure, Platformer
System: Steam (Windows)
Developer|Publisher: Team Scoop | Artfx School of Digital Arts
Controller Support: Full
Release Date: April 28th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Team Scoop
Back in April 2022, a small team of students banded together to create a prototype indie puzzle game set in space. A full year later, the game, called Shutter, made its Steam debut, and you can play it from start to finish, all for the low price of zero. I played Shutter all the way to the end to discover what fresh ideas the game brings to the table.
Sights, Sounds, and Collectibles!
Shutter lets you play as Keith, a new recruit in a research facility. The game wastes no time in putting you in the action. You control Keith in a third-person view using the usual WASD controls and space bar to jump. Learning how to play was pretty straightforward, thanks to the small, unobtrusive prompts. While the game is very linear in progression, it grants you the freedom to look around and explore space-themed surroundings. The facility offers some collectables that help piece together the rather thin story and score a few achievements too.
For a free indie title, I was impressed with the visuals, lighting and how smoothly the game runs. I do recommend playing this on a computer with a discrete GPU, as the game can run sluggishly on some integrated graphics setups unless you dial down the quality settings. Keith’s character model isn’t anything to write home about, but it does remind me of several old PS2 titles I played back in the day.
The game’s primary mechanic revolves around the Dimensional Camera, a special point-and-shoot camera. Once you have obtained it, you can equip it anytime with a simple right-click. While equipped, you simply left-click to snap the shot.
The twist is that the camera does more than just take a picture; it also transfers the object to the photograph! With the object in your possession, you can place the object back in any other spot the laws of physics allow. Doing so reveals the other key mechanic of the game, the object’s physical dimensions from the moment you captured it locks in, too, so placing it back in the real world could make it appear larger or smaller depending on where you place it.
Capturing only works on blue objects, making it pretty easy to distinguish those objects from the rest. The developers also thoughtfully added a colourblind setting broadening its accessibility. In practice, I first found taking pictures and moving objects around quite confusing, and you’ll get a dose of that once you end up with a miniaturized version of an object.
Fortunately, Shutter offers a hub of sorts where you can chill and practice your shutterbug skills. Think of it as a sandbox mode where you can just run around and muck about without the puzzle pressures. As soon as I snapped an object really close (so it appears really big in the photograph) and walked far back before I put it back, I immediately mastered the important art of resizing objects and appreciated the innovative mechanic. There isn’t that much to do, though, so it’s only natural to press onward and start solving puzzles!
Similar Puzzles With Different Packaging
Shutter took me about 3 hours to complete, which involved a bit of exploring, playing with the Dimensional Camera, and figuring out the puzzles. The puzzles nicely demonstrate how the Dimensional Camera can contribute to building some interesting puzzle designs. I just wish the developers added a bit more variety to the puzzles, as they get a little repetitive. Much of the game involves placing an object on a button to proceed, with some platforming elements thrown in the mix.
The challenging parts of the game were never the puzzles themselves but more on getting the Dimensional Camera to do my bidding. Despite that minor shortcoming, I do recommend playing all the way through, as the different rooms look gorgeous. I would sum up the experience akin to touring a science museum with a cool toy.
Conclusion – A Concept Worth Expanding On
I think the folks at Team Scoop laid out a nice groundwork here. They clearly know how to make lively environments with good atmospheric sound, full voice acting, and matching music to add to the mysteriousness of the place. The lack of puzzle variety could also fit into the narrative as a free sample to a much larger world, showcasing other potential challenges to solve with the Dimensional Camera.
I’d gladly pay for such content and treat Shutter in its current state as an Episode 1 kind of deal because looking at it from that perspective really makes the game worth experiencing. Portal and Portal 2 fans should be able to get a nice kick out of this title. I look forward to seeing Team Scoop expand on this promising universe.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot